My Writing Influences

When I was a writing student, one of my mentors taught me to carefully analyze and learn from authors I admired most. This isn’t to suggest that my writing voice will ever emulate the styles of those who have inspired me to write fiction, but, through the practice of studying great works, I have become more discerning and aware of my own habits and weaknesses. Becoming a skilled writer isn’t so much about sounding like everyone else. At least part of being a really good writer is about developing a strong authentic voice.   In college, I was obsessed with 19th century literature. Don’t laugh (okay, you can laugh), but I wanted to write like Herman Melville and Jane Austen. My first writing coach actually did kind of laugh at me because my writing style looked nothing like 19th century literature. Over the course of several months my mentor had me work on discovering my writing voice and learning about other novelists whose styles were a little more similar to mine.   Adjectives that have been used to describe my writing are terse, gritty, and masculine. I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy about this at first. However, as I started […]

My Relationship With Fiction

Before I became a photographer, I studied creative writing. During my time as a graduate student at California College of the Arts, I finished my first (and very rough) draft of my novel in addition to a handful of short stories. When I started my novel, I didn’t even know it was going to be a novel. At the time, I was working with a mentor who wanted me to practice writing emotions associated with the description of a room. A single writing exercise turned in to the first two chapters of my story. Since then I have learned more about fiction through the process of writing my first novel.   It’s not easy for me to articulate my relationship with fiction because it has evolved over time. I used to believe that there was a sharp divide between myself and the material I created. The reason I chose fiction was that I wanted to explore personalities and subject matters that I thought I would never experience in my own life. It has always been too difficult for me to write about anything that too closely resembles my life. I can’t be entirely authentic because I get anxious. Part of […]

Book Contests: Are they worth it?

When I first started getting into photography, I would submit my work to contests now and again. Most of these contests I found through social media platforms. While many of them had reasonable application fees, they were time consuming and I was competing against thousands of very talented photographers. After a while, I wrote off contests.   Fast forward a couple years. . . I published my debut book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, and now I was trying to gain exposure for my book. As a self-published author, it can be extremely challenging to get your book seen by the right audience. According to Forbes, anywhere between 600,000 to a million titles are published each year. The chances of readers stumbling onto your book on Amazon is pretty small.   In the beginning, I was mostly focused on social media marketing and advertising. By chance, I found out about a contest from the Nonfiction Author’s Association Book Awards program. I entered the contest and received two Gold Awards for Photography and Pop Culture. In addition, to receiving an emblem and title, which I could now use for my marketing materials, I got exposure from their marketing channels from […]